Our everyday lives are dominated by interplays between Copycats and Contrarians. Crowds at public weddings and funerals, tumbling stock markets, the denigration of experts, political tribalism and the spread of religious fundamentalism: all are driven by the same basic instincts to herd, to follow, and to imitate others – instincts we share with a surprisingly wide range of animal species. Drawing on diverse insights from economics, psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology and behavioural ecology, Michelle will explore when, how and why we follow others – and the implications of our herding instincts for our social-media-dominated modern lives.
Michelle Baddeley is Director and Research Professor at the University of South Australia’s Institute for Choice – North Sydney, and an Honorary Professor with the Institute for Global Prosperity, University College London. She is a behavioural economist, combining her interests in economics and psychology to explore the impact of social influences on people’s everyday choices and decisions about everything from house-buying to political voting – some of the subjects explored in her latest book “Copycats and Contrarians – Why We Follow Others, and When We Don’t” (Yale University Press).
She champions multidisciplinary research and has collaborated with a wide range of researchers – including neuroscientists, psychologists, computer scientists, architects, engineers and planners – amongst others. She is also keenly interested in informing public policy making and is an Associate Researcher with the Cambridge Energy Policy Research Group and an Associate Fellow with the Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge.